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Banned Books Week (one week late)

Last week, bookstores, schools, and libraries around the country celebrated Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the “freedom to read.” While the idea of censorship may seem antiquated, more than 11,300 books have been challenged in the United States since the first Banned Books Week in 1982. You can learn more about frequently challenged books on the American Library Association’s website. Some challenges to books are exasperating. Others are alarming.

Take, for instance, what happened in Arizona. In 2010, a state law was passed that resulted in the banning, not only of books, but of an entire school curriculum. The law stated,BBW_vert_banner2

“A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that include any of the following:

1.  Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
2.  Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3.  Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4.  Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

Following this legislation, the Tucson Unified School District dismantled its widely praised Mexican-American Studies program. In dismantling the program, officials removed hundreds of curriculum materials from schools and classrooms. Among the removed materials were books, including Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 years, Critical race theory, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  In 2013, following years of community protests and national outcry, the school district voted to un-ban several of the removed books.

Challenges to what we read and, consequently, censorship of what we think, persist. The antidote? Go ahead. Read. Encourage others to do the same. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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Learn to Do Just About Anything with Lynda.com

Lynda.com LogoIf you’ve ever frantically Googled how to do something in a certain software program or wished you had a step-by-step guide to new programs, Wheelock has a great new resource for you available through the Earl Center. Lynda.com provides more than 2,400 online video courses on topics in technology for education, audio and video production, business, print and web design, programming, photography, and 3D and animation.

Lynda.com courses are broken down into short videos of 10 minutes or less, narrated by professionals who take you through every step in the learning process. So you can do a complete course in one sitting, break it up by video or by chapter, or search for the specific task or topic without committing to a several hour course. All the tutorials include transcripts to help you follow along, and many options to adjust the speed of playback, toggle a pop-out window or bookmark specific points in a video. You can also use Lynda through their iOS and Android apps.

Lynda Screenshot

An example of the Lynda.com interface.

Not sure where to start? Check out some of the playlists our library staff members have created!

Tip: Click the “Save this playlist” button and log in to move the playlist to your personal account and watch at your leisure.

And of course, you can always explore on your own by selecting Lynda.com from the Databases A-Z tab on the library website. The summer is the perfect time to finally pursue that skill you’ve been telling yourself you’d learn!

Find great Lynda.com courses you think should be highlighted in a library playlist or a research guide? Comment below or send us an email.

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Notes on Fear

“Fear is isolating for those that fear.  And I have come to believe that fear is a cruelty to those who are feared” (Biss 154).  This statement, like so many of Biss’ revelations in Notes From No Man’s Land, gave me pause.  Fear is isolating.  Fear is cruel.  And, as her cousin tells us, fear is violence. Biss

Growing up is, in many ways, about facing your fears and overcoming them.  Riding a bike is scary the first time you do it.  So is sleeping over at a friend’s house.  And going to college.  We are afraid of what is unfamiliar.  To accept these fears as absolute truths would be debilitating.  We would never venture into the world or try new things.  And yet, as adults, we allow our fears to become immutable.  We become settled in our routines, comfortable in our circles of friends, and we stagnate.  We cease to push the boundaries of our fears and we are instead penned-in by them.  As Biss points out, “Fear is accepted…as a kind of intelligence” (157-158).  It becomes prudent to be afraid.

I do not advise imprudence.  There are real dangers in the world and caution is often necessary.  But I wonder, with Biss, whether “insularity is a fair price to pay for safety” (154).  I strongly suspect that it is not.  Fear of people, especially fear of whole groups of people, demands that we avoid those people.  It demands that we do not take the bus through a particular neighborhood.  It demands that we carefully separate our homes from their homes, our schools from their schools.  It demands that we do not make eye contact, or smile, or offer a helping hand.  It demands that we treat other humans as less-than-human. It demands that we perpetuate age-old oppressions.

None of us lives without fears, but perhaps we can mitigate the damage they cause by examining them critically, by engaging them, and by growing out of them.

Biss, Eula.  Notes From No Man’s Land.  Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2009.  Print.

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FYI: Welcome First Years!

You can probably hear the buzz and feel the energy mounting on the Wheelock campus.  It’s that time of year when we welcome the incoming freshman class to Wheelock College.  The Wheelock College Library would like to say, “Welcome First Years!”libheartyou

The most important thing for you to know about the Wheelock Library is that the library staff is here to help you.  That’s right.  We are here for you.  Ask us anything!  We’re here to help.  Never looked up a book in the library catalog before?  Ask us.  Need to find articles for your research paper?  Ask us.  Wondering where in the library the Writing Center is?  Ask us.

This is your library.  From open until close every day, this is your space to study, meet with friends, relax, learn, grow, and create.  Want to study quietly while listening to your best study music on your headphones?  We welcome you.  Want to work on a group project in one of the library’s group study rooms?  We welcome you.  Want to take a nap on a library couch?  We welcome you.

In the library you’ll find:

  • Studying Space, including Quiet areas, Collaborative areas, and Study rooms
  • Resources, including books (and e-books), children’s books, articles, course readings, and movies
  • AV equipment, including digital camcorders, audio recorders, digital cameras, voice recorders, and headphones
  • Computers and printers
  • Staff who are ready to help you

You may be asking, “Okay, but what if I’m a second year (or third year, or fourth year)?”  We welcome you too!  It’s never too late (or too early) to visit the library.

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